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It’s easy to scoff at people with plummy accents living in beautiful stately homes in the country, but there’s more to Desmond than his privileged background. The series follows his battle to make the Wiveton Hall estate profitable, and his inventiveness and business nous wouldn’t be out of place on Dragon’s Den – although his tweed jacket might.
Desmond doesn’t leave it to the professionals – and why should he? He’s got years of experience on the estate, which he inherited when he was still a teenager. Whether it’s tidying up the kitchen garden or putting the finishing touches to a newly renovated holiday cottage, he’s always there to lend a hand.
Just about anything will elicit a “Well done!” from Desmond. Laying some stepping-stones in a front garden? Well done! Found a rogue swarm of bees for Desmond to corral back into the hive? Well done! This must be the secret to keeping his workers happy while they slave over a hot, er, asparagus field.
Episode two opens with a shot of Desmond at work in the gardens, with a scything action that would make Ross Poldark proud. He then proceeds to give a scything master class (“It’s rather like carving Serrano ham”) to his gardener that includes a lament about once-great France and an anecdote about family picnics.
It’s not all work at Wiveton Hall. Whether it’s throwing a 100th birthday party for his mother Chloë or hosting a hoedown in a barn, Desmond knows how to enjoy himself. As evidenced in the first episode, where he enjoys himself a little too much…
Luxuriant, unkempt. Always on the brink of flying off his face.
Don’t miss Normal for Norfolk – on BBC2 tonight at 10pm